Jason Williams was on the court for a little more than four minutes when the Grizzlies defeated the Milwaukee Bucks at the FedExForum last week.
A warm and cheerful welcome back went out from the crowd of 14,740.
Williams said it felt good to be on the floor.
“Any way I can help these young guys, I’ll do it,” he said. “Anytime I’m playing basketball, I wanna do that.”
|Jason Williams is focused on a steal attempt on this play. Back with the Grizzlies, J-Will says he is here to help. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)|
“Jason (Williams) is an energetic guy. He’s gonna help us. Being a young rookie, I’m looking forward to learning from him.”
Grizz forward Darrell Arthur is also looking forward to playing with Williams.
“He’s cool,” Arthur said. He’s a veteran leader. He’s just up there letting guys know his wisdom.”
Selected by the Sacramento Kings as the seventh overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, Williams helped guide the Grizzlies to their first two playoff appearances in 2004 and 2005.
Veteran Grizz fans no doubt remember the level of intensity that Williams brought to the court during his first stint.
Fans – some with more amusement than others – also will recall the infamous exchange of words he had with local sports columnist Geoff Calkins. The snatching of Calkins’ pen during an interview after a Grizzlies loss to the Phoenix Suns in the 2005 NBA playoffs resulted in a $10,000 fine. Shortly thereafter, Williams won an NBA title with the Miami Heat and later became part of the Orlando Magic.
And now he’s back with the Grizzlies as a free agent after being waived by Orlando on Jan. 26. Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced Williams’ return, with some in Grizz land immediately wondering just what effect Williams will have on a gelling team with realistic playoff aspirations.
The key may be in his eyes, which still reflect his excitement for the game of basketball.